Friday, December 3, 2010

What I did on my Thanksgiving vacation

The McIntosh family took a 10-day vacation over the Thanksgiving holiday to visit family back East. We spent a few days in Boston visiting Nicola’s family members then we drove to upstate New York to visit my family just outside of Syracuse.
During our trip, we went to my hometown of Clinton, a quaint New Englandy village of about 1,200 people that hosts a Shopper’s Stroll each year on the Friday after Thanksgiving. There’s also a night parade through the village, and an estimated 8,000 people showed up.
In the weeks leading up to our visit, I was reading in my hometown paper with great concern about the closing of McHarris Gifts, a seemingly immovable institution on one of the most iconic corners in Clinton. In particular, it has always been a don’t-miss stop on the Shopper’s Stroll. With the store closing, it seemed Shopper’s Stroll just wouldn’t be the same.
Then came the story shortly afterward that a group of 30 local artists and craftspeople decided to turn the shop into an artists cooperative, calling it Artisan’s Corner. One of those artists is Lynn Hall, or Lynn Whittemore, as I knew her when we graduated from high school together some 21 years ago. I had the great fortune of running into her on the grand opening day of Artisan’s Corner during the Shoppers Stroll (really not a difficult feat, running into people you know in a small village). She told me that each of the artists pays $100 per month toward the $3,000 monthly rent and agrees to work in the shop one day per month.
Each artist has ample space to display their work and provide racks and shelves to sell their wares. The mix of items was impressive. As expected, there were paintings and drawings and photography. But more surprising were such items as handmade soaps and candles, quilts, mittens, scarves and hats, lampshades and bases, handmade wooden anniversary banks, pottery, jewelry, glass sculpture and goblets and even locally handmade Windsor-style chairs.
Just like old times, people were streaming in and out of the store all day and into the evening, as vendors outside on the packed sidewalk provided hot cider and roasted chestnuts and a brass band played Christmas songs. I, myself, purchased a $25 print of a village scene painted by Lynn. She was well on her way to making rent that month, and that was within the first hour of the store’s grand opening.
It made me wonder if there might be a small contingent of Kuna artists and craftspeople who might be able to put together an artists cooperative in downtown Kuna.

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